The beauty of pomegranate seeds nestled against sectioned oranges and candied orange peel gives this creamy cheesecake grande dame status. Baking it in a water bath makes it extra creamy.
Oxmoor House JUNE 2007
Using a zester and working from top of orange to bottom, remove peel from oranges in long strips. Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes. Add orange peel; simmer 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and section zested oranges. Seal orange sections in a zip-top plastic bag, and refrigerate until ready to garnish cheesecake.
Drain orange peel well. Toss with 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl. Place candied peel in a thin layer on wax paper to dry. Store in an airtight container up to 2 days.
Combine graham cracker crumbs and next 3 ingredients; stir well. Press mixture firmly on bottom and 2" up sides of a lightly greased 9" springform pan.
Bake at 350° for 14 to 16 minutes; let cool. Wrap bottom and sides of pan in aluminum foil and place in a large roasting pan; set aside. (Wrapping the pan is insurance against leaks in case your pan is older and not 100% airtight.)
Beat cream cheese at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add 1 1/4 cups sugar, beating just until blended. Add sour cream, beating just until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in lemon rind and extracts.
Pour batter into baked crust. Add hot water to roasting pan to a depth of 2". Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until edges are set and center is almost set. Carefully remove pan from water bath, and immediately run a knife around edge of pan. Cool completely on a wire rack; cover and chill 8 hours.
To serve cheesecake, remove sides of springform pan. Place cheesecake on a serving platter. Arrange orange sections in concentric circles on top of cake. Pile pomegranate seeds in center of cheesecake. Decorate with candied orange peel.
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